Religious and Political Discord in the Javanese Community in Pre-Independence Suriname
Hoefte focuses on the religious and political schisms in the Javanese Muslim community in Suriname in the 1940s and 1950s. Though the overwhelming majority of Javanese were Muslim at this time, intra-religious strife split them into east and west worshipper groups. One group prayed, as in Java, facing westward; the other group faced east toward Mecca. This directional dispute, of course, was an embodiment of deeper disputes involving Javanese culture, politics, and whether the future of the Surinamese Javanese was in Suriname or in newly independent Indonesia. Central to Hoefte’s study is the effort of one group of Javanese to escape the discord in Suriname by relocating to Indonesia, where they built a new village named Tongar. Their lack of success there, however, closed off immigration to Indonesia as a viable option for other migrants who wished to escape the east-west conflict in Java. Since return to Indonesia was not feasible, Suriname became the only place where Javanese Muslims could advance. Hoefte argues that, to date, studies on twentieth-century Suriname have insufficiently recognized that, in the wake of the political emancipation of the Javanese after World War II, a gradual socio-cultural and socio-economic development followed, which gradually weakened conflicts between worshippers.
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